Monday, March 3, 2008

JBT Scam
Chautala, son Ajay to face prosecution
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 3
In a significant development, the CBI today lifted the veil of secrecy about its investigation in the Haryana JBT teachers’ recruitment scam and categorically told the Supreme Court that former Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala and his son Ajay Chautala, MP, will face prosecution.

The CBI further said no sanction for filing the charge sheet in the trial court against the father and son duo was required under the law.

The CBI has taken the “no sanction” stand against Chautala and Ajay after detailed consultation with legal experts in the light of Supreme Court’s ruling in Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s case.

Apart from the father and son, the CBI, under various provisions of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Prevention of Corruption Act, will proceed against 10 other accused.

They include the then officer on special duty (OSD) Vidyadhar in the CM’s office and former Haryana director of primary education Sanjiv Kumar. The CBI counsel said in Sanjiv Kumar and Vidhyadhar’s case, sanction was yet to be obtained from competent authorities.

Disclosure of Chautala and Ajay’s names was made by additional solicitor general Amrendra Sharan, appearing for the CBI after a Bench of Justices Ashok Bhan and Dalveer Bhandari put specific query to him about the who’s who of the accused persons and the latest position about completion of the sanction process for filing the charge sheet against them.

Unlike the February 1 hearing, when the CBI counsel was reluctant to clearly disclose the names of the accused persons, he was forthcoming today when the court put him the query.

The CBI counsel said though Chautala and his son were also the public servants in their present capacity as MLA and MP respectively but for filing the charge sheet against them the sanction was not necessary.

In the Badal case verdict, it was laid down that for chargesheeting a public servant sanction becomes mandatory only under Section 197 of the CrPC not under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA).

The distinction was made by the apex court to protect public servants against “frivolous” prosecution for an act done in the discharge of their official duty as Section 197 of CrPC provides them a protective cover. But this cover would not extend to a public servant under the PCA for any “deliberate” act of corrupt practice aimed at obtaining “pecuniary gains” for himself.

The other eight persons probed by the CBI in the JBT scam case mostly include middle rung Haryana government servants involved in the processing of the recruitment of over 2,000 primary school teachers during Chautala’ tenure.

In view of the statement of the additional solicitor general, the court adjourned the hearing on a set of PILs in the case for six weeks, giving the CBI further time to complete the sanction process.

The CBI is investigating the scam on the Supreme Court’s orders following a set of PILs filed in 2003 alleging that Chautala had forced Sanjiv Kumar to change the list of “genuine” selected candidates with a list drawn by his OSD Vidyadhar of the candidates from whom money was “collected”.

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